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Wiser Capital to raise $100M for solar projects

By   /   Thursday, January 9th, 2014  /   Comments Off

Santa Barbara-based solar finance firm Wiser Capital said Jan. 9 that is has entered into a $100 million deal with Sandler O’Neill and Partners, a major Wall Street investment bank.

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From left, Stephen Honikman, Nathan Homan and Michael McGuire, the principals at Santa Barbara startup Wiser Capital. The firm offers a Web-based platform to help solar installers, clean-energy investors and commercial property owners connect. (Alex Drysdale / Business Times photo)

From left, Stephen Honikman, Nathan Homan and Michael McGuire, the principals at Santa Barbara startup Wiser Capital. The firm offers a Web-based platform to help solar installers, clean-energy investors and commercial property owners connect. (Alex Drysdale / Business Times photo)

Santa Barbara-based solar finance firm Wiser Capital said Jan. 9 that is has entered into a $100 million deal with Sandler O’Neill and Partners, a major Wall Street investment bank.

The deal means the New York firm will solicit investors, including community banks, while Wiser Capital will connect them with property owners looking to install mid-sized solar systems.

“We are now poised to secure more solar on commercial property and provide a larger pool of financing for an integration community that’s starving for funding,” Wiser Capital Managing Partner Nathan Homan said in a statement.

Wiser Capital was founded last year with an initial $1.3 million from private investors. Its platform is a marketplace that connects energy investors, host facilities and installers of mid-size photovoltaic, or PV, solar systems. The platform evaluates individual solar project participants and matches them with projects in development based on specific qualifications and requirements.

To a host facility, typically a commercial building of some sort, “Wiser Capital is just like a utility,” Homan said in an interview last year. He said Wiser Capital tries “to put a contract into every host facility — that means they know what the price of power is going to be for the next 20 years.”

The Sandler O’Neill deal will facilitate syndication of at least $100 million, the firm said Jan. 9, with a focus on community banks as potential investors. “Distributed generation, or DG, commercial solar projects, with sizes ranging from 50 kilowatts to 2 megawatts, are currently underserved by financial institutions and are an ideal asset class for credit-starved community banks,” the firm said. “The projects generally fall into the preferred financing range for community banks, with individual funding requirements between $250,000 and $5 million.”

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